One year. 365 Days or 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds. One year’s time. Now might be an appropriate time to talk about new years. Did you know, in my estimation, the average person experiences between three to four new years every year? This is important in so far as what a ‘new year’ signifies. The most known new year is January 1st, when the calendar year turns to a new year. At the time of writing this I am sixteen days away from 2021. And with the new year, after the celebration and revelry of leaving behind the previous year, comes new year resolutions; promises to do better, to accomplish great things, to be a better version of ourselves.
The annual review and pursuit is generational. As little kids it was the challenge to stay up until midnight. All too kindly our parents helped us make the attempt. We would gather the sleeping bags and pillows into the living room, pop the popcorn, and watch old Groucho Marx and 3 Stooges until the ball dropped in a big city…supposedly. I never made it that far. Then on to high school and college years when the new year celebration was true revelry and fun. Not only did we count down the final seconds of the year it was not uncommon to celebrate the first few hours of the new year and only find rest as the first dawn peaked above the horizon. Then the middle years of life the revelry subsides. Staying up is not as important as getting up early in the new year to enjoy a long run on the quiet streets of Chicago. And now, midway through life’s journey time to explore how there is more than one day of the year when we celebrate the turning of a new leaf, beginning with a blank slate and looking forward full of hope and great expectations. Let’s start where nature begins.
This is the most important new year in life. The celebration of life, your life. Growing up birthdays were about the cake, the friends, and the presents. The one day when the song is all about you. Birthdays become a little more significant when you have children. Each year it is a reminder of the precious life that was brought into this world — a bright light to make the world shine. What is celebrated is the joy of that precious moment and the achievements accomplished up to that year. It is part celebration, part wistful goodbye to the innocence. It also places greater meaning to the parents birthday — a recognition of yet another year older but doing so while imparting wisdom to the generation to come. Entering the middle of life’s journey birthdays do become waypoints to evaluate life’s direction and course correct, check the supplies, and prepare for the next leg [read year].
Fiscal New Year
This new year typically comes around in the workplace. No business ever does it the same, whether the fiscal year ends June, September or December it will reset in July, October or January. Either way it takes a few months to reconcile the past year and line up proposed projects, timelines, and expectations for the coming year. I suspect that if you pay your taxes annually then you already do this sometime between January to April. Whereas reflecting on spending habits is not the typical reflection point of a pilgrim, it is an important one and be a cause for discernment on how funds received are disbursed. Perhaps time to assess how money was and can be best utilized on the pilgrimage of life; to prepare for what is coming up, help those in most need, while also providing for the immediate needs of the journey.
Liturgical New Year
The first Sunday after Thanksgiving is the liturgical new year for Catholics. It is a precious time to enter into the dark days of winter and walk towards the light that is the birth of Jesus Christ, God made Man to save mankind. In that joyful procession from that first Sunday of Advent to that Christmas Day in the celebration of Jesus’ birth it is a new year spiritually. The world may have many ways to celebrate the turning of a new leaf, but none is more important than turning inward to reflect on how we have lived our lives following the tenants of the faith, for Catholics living the Gospel message, the Ten Commandments and Beatitudes. Catholics are not alone. All major religions celebrate a new spiritual year. One thing is true about pilgrimage — the journey does not stop here. The liturgical new year is a good waypoint to take stock of how far we’ve come and where we are headed in following Our Lord as we ascend the mountain of the Lord.
Happy New Year
Here we are again. The new year celebration most everyone knows and relates to the best regardless of where you are in the world. People gather in small groups and massive crowds prior to midnight. They relish in spending time with those closest to them with good food and drink. With a few minutes to spare everyone prepares and then the countdown — 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 — and then it is quite simply a new year. At the time of this writing it will be 2021. It approaches soon. Until the other new years come around take some time now to reflect on 2020. It has not been the easiest of years but from it can be harvested many lessons of who we are and who we are to become.
Here’s to where you’ve been on pilgrimage and here’s to where you will go. Journey onward my friends.